SF Pride to show resistance
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This year's San Francisco Pride parade and celebration theme, "A Celebration of Diversity," could also be seen as a rebuttal to the administration of President Donald Trump, whose bigotry during his campaign drew the fervent support of anti-LGBT activists, white supremacists, and others opposed to equality.
Since taking office in January, the resistance movement spawned by Trump's November election has only grown in liberal enclaves like the Bay Area. Many people are expected to attend this year's San Francisco Pride activities â€" the festival Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25 and Sunday's mammoth parade â€" with a strong desire to celebrate being with people from different places and backgrounds.
"Every year SF Pride is reflective of, and responsive to, the forces that are impacting our lives, and we expect this year to be no different," George Ridgely, executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, said in response to emailed questions. "We have seen this in times of celebration, times of mourning, and times of resistance. We expect the tone of this year's parade/march to very much reflect the broader message of resistance around the country."
Planned Parenthood and El/La Para TransLatinas will be among the more than 250 contingents that are expected in Sunday's parade, according to Ridgely.
Many contingents likely will express opposition to the policies coming out of the Trump administration.
"In solidarity with the resist movement, our board of directors will lead this year's parade with a marching contingent comprised of representatives from roughly 20 diverse organizations who focus on women's rights, immigration, and the profiling persecution of African-Americans," Ridgely added.
The parade will also include a "We Fought Back" contingent comprised of organizers of the 1977-78 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day, Pride's predecessor, who fought against the anti-gay Briggs initiative in California and legendary homophobe Anita Bryant, who led anti-gay efforts in her home state of Florida and beyond.
SF Pride organizers, who have long faced criticism that the parade and celebration have become too commercial, have also worked to make this year's event seem more political. The SF Pride Committee's website has branded the parade as a march and the celebration as a rally, similar to what Los Angeles Pride organizers did a couple of weeks ago in solidarity with the June 11 national Equality March for Unity and Pride that was held in Washington, D.C.
"To simply call our event a parade or celebration is limiting and not truly reflective of what takes place at San Francisco Pride, and we wanted to address that," said Ridgely. "Every year â€" in addition to well-crafted and creative floats â€" there are tens of thousands of people who march down Market Street, many with homemade signs carrying messages of empowerment, hope, and demands for equality and justice. Simultaneously, the celebration is more than a dance party. We have a long tradition of including a speaker series on the main stage, with individuals and organizations addressing the issues that our communities are facing."
Ridgely said the cast of the ABC TV miniseries "When We Rise" will march in the parade and appear on the main stage. The show, which aired earlier this year, was based in part on the memoir of local gay and AIDS activist Cleve Jones. It featured the stories of several San Francisco LGBT activists, including Ken Jones, Diane Jones and Roma Guy, and Cecilia Chung.
Formal safety screenings were instituted at the SF Pride celebration last year, following the June 12 massacre at Orlando, Florida's gay Pulse nightclub, where Omar Mateen fatally shot 49 people and wounded 53 others before he died in a shootout with police. Officials added metal detectors and other security measures.
Ridgely said everyone will be screened again at the entry gates this year. People's bags will be checked, and bags larger than 18 inches by 18 inches won't be permitted.
"Last year, wait times did not exceed 30 minutes, and we hope to achieve that again this year," said Ridgely.
The Civic Center celebration runs from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday. The parade begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Market and Beale streets and ends at Market and Eighth streets.
The festival is free, but there's a suggested donation of $1. Donations from the celebration have helped SF Pride contribute more than $2.7 million to community nonprofits since 1997.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Spector ("Be My Baby") and hip-hop artist Cazwell ("Ice Cream Truck") will be among the main stage headliners.
Every year, Bay Area nonprofits work as community partners to provide volunteers for SF Pride. In exchange, the groups get a portion of the proceeds.
One of Pride's community partners this year is the San Francisco Spikes soccer club. In response to emailed questions, Keith Thomas, a spokesman for the group, said, "Pride allows us to reach out to and provide even more people of the LGBTQ community with a healthy, affordable, and supportive environment to play soccer. We feel like this is especially important in team sports where often LGBTQ persons have not felt comfortable."
For more information on Pride events, visit http://www.sfpride.org.
The Pride parade and celebration aren't the only events that will draw people to San Francisco's streets this weekend.
The 2017 Trans March, set for Friday, June 23, will start in Mission Dolores Park. Stage performers and speakers will begin at 3 p.m. The march starts at 6. At 7:30, there will be more speakers at Turk and Taylor streets. For more information, go to http://www.transmarch.org.